When Paul McCartney Got In Trouble For The Lyrics Of ‘Hey Jude’

Although the Beatles’ iconic duo of songwriting had been accused of ripping songs off numerous times, Paul McCartney and John Lennon had never been blamed for representing Adolf Hitler. While it may confuse you to think of the English band supporting nazis, their lyrics once gave McCartney a headache.

The misunderstanding that almost caused Paul McCartney to be beaten up came from the band’s hit, ‘Hey Jude.‘ To his surprise, McCartney had unintentionally used a name with a bad history and offended a Jewish person who didn’t like what he saw. Let’s take a look at the story’s details that nearly got the Beatle into big trouble.

Paul McCartney Wrote ‘Hey Jude’

While there are numerous hits credited to Lennon-McCartney, one of the most well-known tracks of the duo is ‘Hey Jude. ‘The song was released as a non-album single in August 1968, and it was a No. 1 hit in many countries around the world. Even years after its release, it is still frequently included on music critics’ lists of the greatest songs of all time.

The inspiration behind the song was the son of John Lennon named Julian from his former wife, Cynthia Powell. McCartney had a close relationship with little Julian, and he could sense a deep sadness in him after seeing his parents divorce. Therefore, he wrote a song named ‘Hey Jules’ about the divorce process, which eventually turned into ‘Hey Jude.’

Paul McCartney Was Threatened Because Of ‘Hey Jude’

Paul McCartney reflected on the song’s story during an interview with GQ. In addition to this, the musician recalled the time he almost got into huge trouble due to the track’s name, which can be perceived as a reference to one of the most devastating and horrifying times in history.

Apparently, the Beatles were into fashion, and they decided to open a store. They came up with an idea to write ‘Hey Jude’ on their front window to catch the attention of people who would pass by on their buses. While it sounded like a good idea at a first glimpse as it’s a famous song, it didn’t go exactly as planned due to the name’s dual meaning.

As McCartney himself found out, later on, the name ‘Jude’ also refers to a phrase used during Adolf Hitler’s time. The Nazis used the phrase ‘Juden raus’ which meant ‘Jews out’ in German. As a result, somebody who saw the name on the front of the store furiously called McCartney to warn him.

The person named Mr. Leon called Paul McCartney to haul him up. The person was furious at the Beatle while he was trying to explain that the title was only referring to a name in a song. The person who was unaware of the song even threatened McCartney to beat him.

Eventually, the angry man came around once he understood it was the name of just one of the Beatles’ songs. At the end of the day, nobody’s son came over to Paul McCartney to beat him up, and he was safe after a huge misunderstanding.

About ‘Hey Jude,’ McCartney said:

“I like the name Jude. I didn’t realize it meant Jewish, it does. Actually, I nearly got into trouble because we put it up on a window of our shop. We had a little shop because we were into fashion, would you believe? On the shop window, we put ‘Hey Jude’ so that people going by on the buses would see.

I got this furious phone call from this guy named Mr. Leon who was Jewish. He said, ‘What are you doing? How dare you do this!’ Because in Hitler’s day in the Nazi thing, ‘Juden raus!’ meant ‘Jews out!’ I didn’t connect because I actually heard the name first in one of the musicals and liked the name.”

He continued:

“The guy rings me up and he’s furious, ‘How are you doing this? Making fool of the Jews, we got enough.’ I said, ‘No, no, no. Wait a minute. I swear to you, it’s like that.’ He said, ‘I’m going to send my son around to beat you up.‘ I said, ‘Hey baby, let’s cool it down. It has nothing to do with it. You’ll hear when you hear the record. It’s just a name in a song, and it’s all cool.

It suddenly alerted me to the fact that it would have caused him a lot of problems because his family will have experienced that firsthand probably. Anyway, I calmed him down, he was cool. His son didn’t come around to beat me up.”

You can watch the interview and listen to ‘Hey Jude’ below.